A Japanese scroll painting by Imao Keinen
Kakejiku (vertical hanging scroll), in ink and colour on paper, depicting saru kani gassen or The Crab and the Monkey, signed and sealed, in wooden box.
H. 106 x W. 31 cm (painting)
H. 195 x W. 44 cm (scroll)
Collection Peter Poldervaart, Amsterdam
The Crab and the Monkey or The Quarrel of the Monkey and the Crab is a Japanese folktale. In the story, a sly monkey kills a crab by hurling fruit at it. The crab is so shocked that she gives birth before she dies. The offspring seeks revenge with the help of several allies – a chestnut, cow dung, bee and an usu (heavy mortar). When the monkey returns home, he tries to warm himself on the heath, but the chestnut strikes the monkey so that he burns himself. When the monkey tries to cool himself with a water bucket he is stung by the bee. When he runs out of the house in agony the cow dung makes him slip and the usu falls down from the roof, killing the monkey – clearly retributive justice is the main theme of this story.